tenacity

“Courage is not having the strength to go on;
it is going on when you don’t have the strength.”

Theodore Roosevelt

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(Vivian Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, wearing her mother’s curtains)

Think Scarlet O’Hara, Julia Sugarbaker and Steel Magnolias all rolled into one.
Who else would think to turn their mother’s prized curtains into
a matter of getting what they need…but a Southerner.

That’s because we in the South understand the significance of
desperate times requiring drastic measures…

For we are a resourceful lot when we need be,
especially during the thick of battle..
We are kudzu and honey all rolled into one..
Barbed wire and sugar spun together…

Because that’s just what we are down here in the South,
tenacious as a bulldog when needed,
soft as a cotton ball when called for….

We are also sweet and charming.
We are cordial.
We are warm.
We are hospitable.
We are not dumb, deplorable or rednecks…contrary to what some would have you believe.
We are educated.
Well educated.
We have great schools, colleges and universities.
People like our weather, well, maybe not in August…
I don’t like our weather in August, or even now, but I digress…

People like our food..think fired this or that, as in chicken and okra.
People like our drinks…think bourbon.
We are mannerly…for if we are not, our grandmothers are obviously not watching.
We believe in morality, decorum and being polite.

But none of that should never lead you to believe that we are
pushovers,
ignorant,
easy,
or lazy.

We are a strong kind people.

And I keep finding that I have to continually remind myself of such…

I have seen more of my poor father than any daughter should ever see of her father
and it is enough to last me a life time.
Bless him.
He can’t help it.
And sadly I can’t avoid it.

We got the water balloon dad unclogged today.
Mr nonchalant doctor was his typical rude, arrogant and non southern self during our visit…
He didn’t want to initially believe, let alone admit,
that there was any scar tissue from August’s surgery…
Well guess what…
there was.

No wonder poor dad was becoming a human water balloon,
a toxic human water balloon.
But mr nonchalant doctor assumed it was the tumor growing; the one we had opted not,
against his suggestion, to spend 8 weeks radiating on a daily basis.

“Has he looked at dad in that wheelchair of his” I wonder…

Quickly and without fanfare or even words, Mr nonchalant doctor performs a little procedure
then quickly leaves the room with us eventually leaving
with now a new sort of water balloon,
a catheter.
And thankfully free-flowing once again!!
No spreading cancer as dad was fearing…
just a little scar tissue fouling up the works…

Dad was having to get up literally 18 times a day and 9 times throughout the night living
like a human water balloon…filling up, but not flowing out.

The doctor walked out with nary a word….
No words of kindness, no words of encouragement,
no words of care nor words of what we might need to do…

Kind of like a wham bam thank you mam sort of moment.

Leaving me with the young nurse to attach everything…
getting everything in, on, up and poor dad back into his chair.

Where I come from a gentleman assesses the situation and lends a hand where
he sees the need.
We call that being a man…patient, kind, gallant and thoughtful.

When we finally walked out, me walking, dad rolling…
Mr nonchalant doctor was sitting at his computer in his office, directly across from us,
as we exited the exam room.

I was sincere and gracious in my thanks and gratitude for helping dad.
As I was always taught to offer thanks for a service rendered and I was genuinely
grateful that dad would now be functioning and flowing.
Plus there I was wheeling my cancer ridden, feeble, 88 year old father
who has just bared everything to everyone…did he not deserve a word?

There was a very long pause of silence before acknowledging that I had spoken…
without glancing from the computer came an “ah huh”…
and with that, dad and I were on our way.

At the elevator dad leans his head back in my direction as I push the button for down…
“he doesn’t have much personality does he?”
“I think he’s a jerk dad.”
“I just think he doesn’t have a beside manner” dad counters…

And that my friends is the response of a gentleman.

A man who just bore his feeble sickly body for violation and he merely chalks up
being ignored to a lack of personality.
Where I see a sorry SOB…

Had I not been wheeling dad, who was now hurting and asked for something for pain,
as mr nonchalant non caring doctor quips over his shoulder, “take some tylenol'”…
I think I would have marched in that office of his, slaping my hands down on his desk,
asking or rather telling him to do the polite thing by
looking me in the face when I’m speaking
and to acknowledge my father as an elder as well as a hurting human being….

Because that’s what we do here in the South, we acknowledge our fellow human beings as
what they are, fellow human beings….

And don’t forget, we also came up with iced tea…..
thank you very much…

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Luke 6:27-28

the tale of the ever-present invisible gentleman

A gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out.
George Bernard Shaw

“Gentlemen, be courteous to the old maids, no matter how poor and plain and prim, for the only chivalry worth having is that which is the readiest to to pay deference to the old, protect the feeble, and serve womankind, regardless of rank, age, or color.”
― Louisa May Alcott

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(Rene Magritte /L’Ami de l’ordre 1963 / oil on canvas )

We are a fickle lot, you and I.
One moment we are as fresh as a downy feather loosed from a newly hatched chick, caught drifting along the tempestuous winds, bourn aloft without thought or care.
Other times we are cunning and conniving as we stealthily crouch in the shadows, hoping the darkness will hide our secrets.

When does the knowledge begin?
Early on I suspect, beginning more upon the surface and being of a rote nature.
The real knowledge, the real recognition, comes along say, around age 10 or so.
The time of life which is perched between single digits and the long litany of double digits, possibly pushing triple digits if one is so blessed. . . or cursed.

And when the knowledge actually does take hold, with the time of decisions and choices seeping into the cognizant away from the involuntary, the dance of life and death gingerly begins its most elegant and macabre promenade.

Yet in what seems to be the blink of an eye, a time arrives when we decide we’ve outgrown our need of the seemingly simple knowledge.
We relegate those thoughts of such assumed mediocrity to the recesses of the heart and mind, deeming it nothing more than that of a child’s fancy. We have moved on, growing sophisticated and worldly.
We come to take greater stock in our own puffed up sense of importance.
Our depth for and scope of knowledge now borders on self proclaimed greatness, pushing aside the old for the new and imagined.

Yet Time is no kind taskmaster, events and moments transpire together and against, leaving us lacking, wanting, needing.
We stand, simply staring, alone.
What has happened?
What was that?
What.
And just as quickly, rage fills in the gaps
We rile with fists raised.
We scream into the air.
Why?
How?
No!
We are helpless.
Nothing we can think,
nothing we can do,
nothing we can be or will be can change things,
fix things,
move things,
stop things.

The self importance, no longer remains important.
The money can’t change it.
The need of the money can’t change it.
The status can’t change it.
The success can’t change it.
The failings can’t change it.
The secrets can’t change it.
The new greater knowledge of self can’t change it.

The decisions were ours.
We had been taught otherwise yet we no longer cared for that simple early knowledge.
It was just that, too simple, and we were certainly no longer those simpletons–
we were important.

And yet this seemingly invisible, ever present, ever near gentleman has watched all of this unfold.
He was there in the early simple knowledge, happy to run and jump, frolic and play.
Nurturing and steadfast, always present.
Joyous alongside our gleefulness.
Brave in our fear.
Strong in our weakness.
Quiet and unassuming.

Yet as we grew in stature of both mind and body, we were no longer needful nor carefree
We were busy.
We were smart.
We knew far too much for the gentleman’s seemingly simplistic ways.
And yet he stood aside, allowing us to pass upon our very important way.
He watched us march off.
Some of us looked back, a bit wistful, a bit sorrowful, a bit hesitant.
Yet we went forward anyway.

Our gentleman friend was left to wait as if he had not choice. . .
and yet it was his choice to wait.
He chose to wait, to wait upon both you and I.

He busied himself with other matters.
He waited with patience and even, dare it be said, love.
Ever knowledgeable in that first simple knowledge, he waited.

He saw the choices, the mistakes, the miscues, the purposeful destruction.
He saw the self righteous new knowledge and the indignation of
pride
lust
greed
hypocrisy
and the notion of needing nothing other than ourselves.

But as a gentleman, he remains just that, a gentleman
One who is there when needed, stepping back when not.
Called upon, he drops everything.
The lone raised hand, the signal to go, he goes without a word.
Coming in and out of the circumstance of lives full of knowledge,
He comes and goes as gently as a downy feather on the tempestuous wind.

The mistake will be to continue the weaving dance with the ever present, invisible gentleman.
Summoning him in and out of our lives, all on the whims and needs of the
beating of hearts.
As a gentleman, he never balks or steps in before being asked.
He sees things that he could do,
could stop,
could fix,
could remedy–
but a gentleman never jumps in without being asked, requested, acknowledged as needed.

He waits off to the side, out of sight.
He waits until we realize that it really is as simple as it once was.
He waits with that knowledge of long ago.
The knowledge we grew too important to claim.

The knowledge didn’t change, we changed.
He didn’t leave.
We left.

And so it is, ever present, yet ever hidden, he continues to wait–
for both you and I.

His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.
Song of Solomon 5:16